From 'Lady Bird' to 'Barbie': 8 Greta Gerwig Movies, Ranked

Saoirse Ronan in 'Lady Bird.'

Greta Gerwig's movies reflect her work in front of the camera and behind it. She started her career has an actress and writer, but she long dreamed of directing, and after helming just four movies, she’s established herself as one of the best filmmakers working today (hence this ranking of movies directed and/or written by Gerwig, regardless of whether she starred in them).

“I think I’ve always wanted to direct, but I didn’t go to film school,” Gerwig told the Los Angeles Times in 2017. “I was lucky enough to work in movies, and I think those became my film school in terms of acting and watching directors work and also writing and cowriting and producing.”

Gerwig’s on-set training seems to have been as valuable as a film degree, because her first solo directorial outing, Lady Bird, scored her an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Just two years later, she helmed a critically acclaimed adaptation of Little Women. When her name wasn’t among the Best Director nominees at that year’s Academy Awards, her fans were outraged.

Major awards success has remained somewhat elusive for Gerwig, but that hasn’t held her back. In 2023, she co-wrote and directed the long-awaited Barbie, which eventually grossed $1.4 billion globally, making it the highest-grossing movie by a female director of all time. Gerwig’s name was once again left off the Best Director list for the 2024 Oscars, but she brushed it off.

“A friend’s mom said to me, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t get nominated,’” she told TIME in February 2024. “I said, ‘But I did. I got an Oscar nomination.’ She was like, ‘Oh, that’s wonderful for you!’ I was like, ‘I know!’” (Gerwig’s script was nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, and the movie was nominated for Best Picture.)

Keep reading for a complete ranking of all the movies Gerwig has written or directed.

Related: Will There Be a 'Barbie' Movie Sequel? Here's Everything We Know About 'Barbie 2'

8 Greta Gerwig Movies, Ranked

8. Northern Comfort (2010)

Gerwig cowrote this improvisational comedy, in which she plays a woman named Cassandra who’s traveling through Canada when she meets Horace (Rod Webber). Cassandra and Horace hit it off but soon start clashing as they try to avoid getting lost in the wilds of the Great White North. Filming the movie seemingly tested everyone’s production mettle, as it was made for $3,000 and shot in just three days.

7. Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007)

Before Lady Bird and Barbie, Gerwig was the queen of mumblecore, thanks in large part to Hannah Takes the Stairs, which she cowrote with director Joe Swanberg. Gerwig plays the titular Hannah, a newly minted college grad who is torn between three different love interests in Chicago. Mumblecore, known for prioritizing often-improvised dialogue over plot, can be divisive, but there’s no question that Gerwig’s first foray in the style is a cornerstone of the genre.

6. Mistress America (2015)

Gerwig’s second screenplay collaboration with her future husband, Noah Baumbach, has similar themes to Frances Ha (see below), but it doesn’t feel quite as cohesive as that earlier film. In Mistress America, Gerwig stars as Brooke, the older stepsister of a Barnard freshman named Tracy (Lola Kirke) who’s having trouble adjusting to college life. Like the titular character in Frances Ha, Brooke is directionless and neurotic, but the plot takes a few too many odd turns before Brooke settles into adulthood.

5. Nights and Weekends (2008)

Gerwig cowrote and co-directed Nights and Weekends with Swanberg. They play the film’s central couple, Mattie and James, who are struggling to keep their relationship alive over long-distance. Another mumblecore classic, the movie can feel a bit messy at times, but that’s kind of the point. The loose structure mirrors the ups and downs of a real relationship and makes James and Mattie’s tale feel like a documentary more than a narrative film.

4. Frances Ha (2012)

Gerwig’s first writing collaboration with Baumbach arrived smack in the middle of a cultural debate about millennial work ethic sparked in part by Lena Dunham’s HBO series, Girls. A decade later, Girls feels very of its time, while Frances Ha has aged into a more timeless exploration of the travails of young adulthood. Gerwig stars as the titular Frances, an underemployed dancer struggling to find her place as her friends grow up and get their lives together. And while Frances’ plight often pulls on your heartstrings, the script is also legitimately funny—a tough feat when you’re following a character who can be as self-involved as Frances.

Related: Greta Gerwig and 'Barbie' Co-Writer Noah Baumbach Are Married: All About Their Relationship

3. Barbie (2023)

After years of stalled attempts at a Barbie movie, fan and critical expectations for this movie were unbelievably high. How could anyone turn a beloved (but also controversial and sometimes hated) doll with minimal backstory into anything resembling a coherent film? Against all odds, Gerwig delivered a record-breaking blockbuster (cowritten with Baumbach) that was incredibly fun to watch but still included poignant messages about womanhood, motherhood and life in a patriarchal society. Some critics derided the film’s themes as Feminism 101, but a quick scan of the day’s headlines will tell you that plenty of people out there—particularly American politicians—still need some lessons. If Gerwig’s candy-colored movie can teach the basics, then more power to Barbie.

2. Lady Bird (2017)

Mother-daughter relationships are one of Gerwig’s favorite subjects, and Lady Bird is her tour de force take on the topic, featuring all-time performances by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. Ronan plays Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a high school senior chafing against the constraints of suburbia while fighting with her mother, Marion (Metcalf), at every turn. The fact that the film won zero of its five Oscar nominations remains an awards season travesty, but at least we’ll always have that scene where Lady Bird jumps out of the car after a particularly heated argument with Marion.

1. Little Women (2019)

I just feel like women … can adapt Louisa May Alcott’s iconic novel into a movie so good that it becomes an instant holiday classic featuring definitive performances by some of Hollywood’s best young actresses. Gerwig’s Little Women screenplay incorporated plenty of dialogue taken straight from Alcott’s book, but her direction—characters talking over each other, the depiction of the bustling March house—makes the film feel modern despite its 19th-century source material. If you make it out of a screening without crying at least once, then congratulations, and please pass the tissues, because the rest of us will certainly need them.

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